The Odessa Police Department will be hosting a Drone Unmanned Aerial Certification School starting in April for anyone interested in learning to fly drones.
Classes are scheduled to begin April 15. It is a 100-hour course divided into three phases, with the first one in April, the second phase in May and the final phase in June. The cost of the program is $4,000 per seat and includes a DJI Spark training drone for every student. Only 16 people are being admitted into the course.
The course is being provided by the company Drone Pilot Inc. Its founder, Gene Robinson, said it’s specific to public safety, teaching ways drones can help first responders such as police officers and firefighters.
“The economic benefit is just incredible, because you don’t have to bring as many people in for traffic control, and you don’t end up with a whole bunch of very irate people who are sent off to some feeder or some detour to get around it.,” Robinson said.
Robinson said there are numerous situations where drones would be helpful for first responders, such as traffic accidents, or gathering overhead photography for accident recreation, or helping to find missing people.
OPD Spokesperson Steve LeSueur said the course could be taken by anyone, not just for first responders. Currently, OPD doesn’t have any drones, but said they eventually will get one, and two officers trained in their use, and said it would be a huge resource.
“OPD will use it really for anything,” LeSueur said. “Like for a standoff for example, crash scenes, search and rescue, things like that.”
Drones can also be useful for oilfield companies, LeSueur added. Many oilfield companies use drones in their day-to-day work, either using one of their own or employing another company. Lane Jameson is the owner of one such company, Midland-based SkyHawk UAS, and said they consistently work with about five local oil companies and occasionally 10 others.
“A lot of them are updating their mapping and facility maps, their fields as far as locations and facilities,” Jameson said. “We also are using them in inspection and maintenance, power lines and substations.”
One of the benefits of drones as opposed to normal cameras, Jameson said, is they can do more than a typical camera, such as thermal imaging.
Anyone interested in participating in the drone school can email OPD Sgt. C. Chavez at [email protected]. The deadline to register is Feb. 5.
Contact Paul Wedding at [email protected] or by calling 432-333-7786.
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